March 1, 2014

What, Gilo not England coach?

It may come as a surprise to many that the erstwhile Wheelie Bin is not heading the England set-up. It was to this writer certainly

News flash: Ashley Giles is not England coach, merely standing in as one for the purposes of this photograph © Getty Images

I'll be honest, I don't follow the cricket news much. I check the scores, I watch the matches, I update Administrator Statsguru (my personal record of who's hot and who's not in the world of executive board meetings), I read every new book by a cricketer (I'm particularly looking forward to Alastair Cook's Doing What Andy Says: The Art of Modern Captaincy) and when a rumour reaches me that Shane Warne has a new tweet out, I drop the priceless sixth century vase / cup of tea / infant I'm holding and reach for my phone.

But the day-to-day, who-said-what-about-whom, who's-got-a-groin-strain-now filler that pads out the day job for cricket journalists largely passes me by - which explains why I am usually grossly ill-informed on most cricket matters.

Take, for instance, the new England coach. I remember a few weeks back, Ashley Giles was the front-runner. Just as I used to stop paying attention when Ashley Giles came on to bowl, I stopped paying attention when I heard that Ashley Giles was the front-runner.

In the interval of oblivion between then and now, my sorely taxed mind has requisitioned some of the brain cells I was using to keep the idea that Ashley Giles was the front-runner for something more important, like my new phone number, or the time of next week's court appearance, or remembering not to light a cigarette whilst smuggling myself into a secret Russian nuclear establishment disguised as a gas canister.

I was left with two phrases: "Ashley Giles" and "England coach", and like a tabloid journalist, my brain simply jammed these two pieces of information together and hoped for the best, leaving me with the impression that Ashley Giles was now the England coach.

But it turns out that Ashley Giles is not yet the England coach. I know this because earlier this week I discovered that Ottis Gibson has not ruled out applying for the job of England coach, and Ottis Gibson is not the sort of chap to make wild statements about possibly applying for jobs that have already been taken. He was, however, a little coy:

"My name is firmly in the hat for this job I'm doing."

In case you were wondering, this job he is doing is coaching the West Indies cricket team, a job that is found somewhere between "Cleaning the Augean Stables" and "Making peace in the Middle East" in the list of tasks likely to prove beyond the powers of mortal beings. The full job description of West Indian coach reads as follows:

Responsible for the playing staff, the coaching staff, the non-playing staff, the weather, the last 20 years of declining standards, Tony Cozier's bad moods, Ramnaresh Sarwan's hamstring, defeats, disputes, strikes, bad haircuts and everything that goes wrong in general, you will guide West Indies cricket to the number one ranking in every format using the playing resources at your disposal (Chris Gayle) and ensuring that whatever happens, the WICB will never be to blame for anything under any circumstances.

The move from coaching a bunch of middle-ranking failures to coaching a different bunch of middle-ranking failures isn't much of a promotion, but in any case, this rather feeble talk of hats isn't going to impress the ECB. Ottis has not ruled himself out, but that only puts him on the long list of other human beings who haven't ruled themselves out, a list that includes everyone on the planet apart from Gary Kirsten.

At the moment, the ECB's shortlist is a very short list indeed, since the only applications have been from a Mr A Giles and a Mr B Assad. But although Mr Assad has the more exciting nickname ("The Butcher of Damascus" clearly trumping "Wheelie Bin") I gather he isn't happy about the lack of chemical-weapons production facilities at Lord's, the ECB's strong line on the use of torture during net practice, or the non-availability of Kevin Pietersen.

All of which leaves only one realistic candidate. But although Ashley Giles is very nearly the new England coach, he isn't actually the new England coach. There is still time for late entries and I understand the ECB is hopeful a Mr V Putin might express an interest. Although he knows nothing about cricket, Vladimir has considerable experience in two areas considered vital for an England coach these days: terminating tricky personnel issues and quelling internal unrest.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here